The crucial thing is that we want businesses, when they open, to remain open.

As the country prepares to reopen, the government must do everything in its power to ensure there is no return to lockdown, according to Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall.

“Today is a positive day and there are many reasons to be optimistic. We have experienced a year like no other, but hope is now on the horizon.

“It is a testament to the hard work of the Irish people, over many months, that the country is now preparing to open up. The past five months of severe lockdown have been very difficult, but we are all hopeful that lockdowns will soon be behind us.

“The reopening of society will enable families and friends to see each other after a long absence; economic life to be rekindled for business owners and workers and for sporting, and arts and cultural, events to again become a fixture in people’s lives.

“Socialising outdoors is going to be a hugely important part of our collective efforts to suppress the virus and supports for businesses, and improved public facilities, need to be in place to help people do that safely and comfortably.

“One area of concern is the lack of evolution in the public safety messaging – which is still very much focused on hand hygiene and social distancing as a means to prevent the spread of covid. One of the things we have learned is that covid is airborne, which is why outdoor socialising is so much safer, and the messaging needs to reflect this.

“Given all we know about the increased risk that comes from being indoors, the government should be offering businesses clear guidance on ventilation and advice regarding the ways in which it can be improved.

“Rapid antigen testing, PCR testing, contact tracing and, of course, the vaccine programme, are all weapons in our arsenal that must be deployed to ensure that the reopening timetable, announced by the Taoiseach this evening, is adhered to.

“Some businesses like hairdressers will be opening next week. Others, like hospitality, will be opening to indoor trade in the coming months. The crucial thing is that we want businesses, when they open, to remain open. Now is the time to offer the advice and help that will help them to do that.

29 April, 2021


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